Presidential Candidates on The Issues

The three leading candidates' stands on 12 key subjects. First of two parts

The report covers only candidates polling 2 percent or higher nationally. Source: Candidates and campaign Web sites

GEORGE W. BUSH (R) Governor of Texas

Medicare

Reform Medicare, adding a prescrip-tion-drug benefit under which all drug costs are paid for the poor and others are subsidized. (No senior would pay more than $6,000 a year.) Give seniors the option of choosing among a variety of private-sector health-coverage plans.

Social Security

Put Social Security surplus in an unspendable "lockbox." No change in existing benefits for retirees or near-retirees. Let people put some of their payroll tax (perhaps about one-sixth) into individual accounts, where it can presumably grow faster in stocks or bonds. He says this would preserve the system without raising payroll taxes.

Health Insurance

Make it cheaper for small businesses to offer insurance to employees by creating associations - pooling their buying power. Build 1,200 community health centers in underserved areas. Tax credits for low-income families. Make the cost of long-term care insurance fully tax deductible.

Education

Backs rigorous national testing combined with local control. If a school is failing, parents could use their share of federal funds to send children to a private school. Supports letting states try such voucher programs. Add $47 billion over 10 years for early reading skills, character education, college Pell grants, expanded tax-free savings, teacher training and recruiting.

Abortion

Opposes abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, and to save the mother's life. Supports parental notification. Would ban "partial birth" abortion and use of taxpayer funds for abortion. Encourage adoption by making a tax credit permanent. Proposes spending at least as much on abstinence education as on teen contraception programs.

AL GORE (D) Vice President

Medicare

Extend program's solvency by putting the Medicare payroll-tax funds in a "lockbox," usable only for Medicare or to pay down the national debt (with resulting savings going to Medicare). Add a prescription-drug benefit, paying all costs for the poor and half of costs up to $5,000 for all seniors. Cover all costs above that amount.

Social Security

Extend solvency to 2054 by putting surplus in a "lockbox." No cuts in benefits to retirees. Increase widows' benefits. Add benefits for up to five years for a parent who stays home or works part time while raising children. Separately, offer new retirement accounts. US matches contributions of lower-income participants. Money grows tax-free until withdrawn.

Health Insurance

Make the Children's Health Insurance Program (targeted at lower-income kids) available to more children and to uninsured parents. Tax credits for long-term care, for small businesses to insure workers, and for 55- to 65-year-olds to buy into Medicare. Backs a patients' bill of rights that shifts power from insurers to patients and doctors.

Education

Increase testing of students and new teachers. Identify failing schools, and turn them around quickly (often by reopening under new leadership). Triple the number of charter schools. Spend an added $170 billion over 10 years on universal preschool, 1 million new teachers, pay raises, renovations, and a $10,000 tuition tax deduction for higher education. Opposes vouchers.

Abortion

Guarantee women the option of abortion, while making investments in family planning and education to reduce unwanted pregnancies. Opposes attempts to restrict Medicaid funding for abortions.

RALPH NADER Consumer activist

Medicare

All seniors would be covered under a universal health plan (see below under health insurance).

Social Security

Says Social Security can remain fundamentally sound with modest changes. If new revenue is needed for the program, raise the income cap on Social Security taxes or expand the tax to cover executive bonuses and stock options. Would improve widows' benefits. Opposes privatization.

Health Insurance

Envisions the government as the sole provider of health insurance, arguing this will significantly cut administrative costs and help to pay for the 47 million Americans who now have no coverage. Would put price restraints on drugs that are developed with government funding, such as most AIDS drugs.

Education

Views education as primarily a state and local responsibility, with federal resources for preschool for families who want it and smaller classes (no more than 25 students). Opposes vouchers. Opposes commercial influences, such as ads, in schools. Would discourage standardized tests for students. Fully fund Head Start.

Abortion

Supports women's right to safe, affordable, and legal abortions.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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